Eat away jet lag
After coming back from a trip to Europe, Asia or anywhere in a different time zone, you have probably experienced difficulty falling asleep due to jet lag. Now new research finds that what you eat may play an important role in getting you back on your “normal” sleep schedule.
According to a study published in Cell Reports, insulin impacts the “PER2 gene” in mice, which is important in regulating sleep. Because of this, insulin may be partially responsible for resetting the body’s internal clock – also known as the circadian rhythm. This led researchers to the conclusion that when we eat foods high in glucose, a carbohydrate, insulin is released into the blood stream, which makes us tired.
“In short, insulin may help the stomach clock synchronize with mealtime,” said the study’s co-author, Dr. Makoto Akashi of Yamaguchi University, in a statement. “For example, for jet lag, dinner should be enriched with ingredients promoting insulin secretion, which might lead to a phase advance of the circadian clock, whereas breakfast would be the opposite.”
Food that promotes insulin secretion are typically high in carbohydrates. So if you are trying to get back to sleep at a normal time, eat less carbohydrates in the morning and more in the evening. For a good night’s sleep, Michelle Remkus, a dietician at the Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center in Downers Grove, Ill., offers these suggestions:
1) Eat fish. It is a good source of Vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin, a hormone that helps with sleep. Try eating some tuna, salmon or tilapia for dinner.
2) Try foods with tryptophan. It is a sleep promoting substance that may make you feel tired and ready for bed. Tryptophan can be found in turkey, milk, nuts and seeds, bananas, honey and eggs.
3) Late night snack: A small snack can curb hunger but if you eat too much you may lay away feeling uncomfortable. Some light snacks include an apple and a handful of almonds or a banana and peanut butter.
4) Avoid caffeine, which can be found in coffee, tea and soda as well as chocolate.
5) Avoid spicy foods for at least four hours before going to bed because they can cause an upset stomach and heartburn.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.